Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Le TDF - now I know how Blazers fans feel...

Yesterday I was about to do a post about the Tour de France, and in retrospect I'm glad I didn't. I haven't said a lot about it here, but I'm a hopeless TDF fan, for good or ill. And lately it's been almost 100% ill. If you hadn't heard already, Alexandre Vinokourov is the latest banned-substance casualty, for using someone else's blood to supplement his own. That sounds really gross, but imagine being the blood donor, the person who got the guy 2 TDF stage wins. I'd be rather proud of that, I have to say. Be that as it may, right now Vino's name is lower than dirt to me. I'm not a puritan, mind you; as a programmer, I can tell you that all advances in the software field occur thanks to caffeine, and sometimes a bit of Sudafed as well. "Performance-enhancing" isn't a pejorative term, as far as I'm concerned. But Vino brought disrepute to the sport at a time when it's never been more vulnerable. He put all of cycling at risk to further his own interests. That was incredibly stupid and selfish, and it's nearly impossible to forgive.

I rooted for him in '05 when he was the eternal third man behind Armstrong-Ullrich. He had my sympathy last year when his Liberty-Seguros team was dumped from the tour after losing several members to the Operacion Puerto scandal. It's not that I figured he was Mr. Clean, exactly; I just figured he was par for the course, and wasn't likely to be the doping poster boy. And I admired his determination and refusal to quit, no matter what. You can't get *that* in a syringe. As far as I know, anyway.

I really thought I was way too old and cynical to have my heart broken by a sports hero with feet of clay. It's not like I expect NHL players to be angels, even if they *are* Canadian. But I was wrong. I swear I won't make the same mistake again, if I can help it.

Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless handheld

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